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NEW DELHI : For the first time in its 75-year history, the hectic activity surrounding the UN General Assembly—the exchange of ideas between world leaders, ministers, diplomats, civil society members, and journalists—will ‘virtually’ be missed. So much so, that even the heads of states and governments have been asked to pre-record video statements that will be played out at the UNGA sessions, in view of the covid-19-led disruptions.

The UNGA will begin on 15 September, and the meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN will take place on 21 September, with a declaration formally adopted at the end of it.

The general debate, which would under normal circumstances have seen leaders and ministers from 193 UN member states address a global audience from behind the iconic lectern in the General Assembly Hall, will start on 22 September. Each country has been allotted 15 minutes during a session, which include recorded messages from leaders, as well as remarks in the Assembly Hall by the country representative preceding the video, news reports said.

A bio-diversity summit is scheduled for 30 September, a meeting of the GA on the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women is on 1 October, while another to promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons is on 2 October. World leaders have been requested to submit their recorded messages for these events as well. The proceedings will be limited to video messages, but some said this year’s session will see multilateralism reduced to the minimum.

In fact, this time the UN Security Council could not put out a statement on the pandemic due to differences of opinion among its permanent, veto-wielding members, such as the US and China.

The visit of a leader to the UNGA is not only for delivering a speech, but a host of events—for instance, PM Narendra Modi had half-a-dozen “plurilateral" meetings with leaders of the Caribbean and Pacific Island states besides bilateral talks with heads of state and government—and that will be missed, said a person, familiar with the working of the United Nations.

PTI contributed to this story.

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